Later, and after a steep climb, the truck stopped at what I imagined was the border. The driver was known to the guards. There was much laughing on both sides. The marabout had picked the right man for this job.
In less than a minute the truck was moving again. When we stopped, the driver opened the back and gestured that I could exit. We were in a small wadi lined with date palms. All around was the flat expanse of desert, tan and piercingly bright in the sun. My driver began to unload the feed. Another man, from the people who dwell near the border, approached, and after a few words together, I was passed on to yet another truck, taking me north. Everywhere I went, the word of the marabout was enough to pass me along, from one lorry to the next, all the way to Morocco.
The final conveyance brought me to a street in the capital city, in the section where the embassies and consulates bask in the temperate glow of the sea, beneath stately palms.
My arrival was a surprise. Accounts of my death had been in circulation for weeks. Even a body had been seen and photographed – a westerner – who matched my description – naked riddled with stab wounds.
But that was my poor substitute. A stand in for the day of my real death, which today had passed me by; I immediately asked for a telephone.